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The Psychology of Hope in Long-Term Addiction Recovery

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People naturally think of hope as a positive thing, but what exactly is it? Hope is a quality that offers you motivation to achieve goals, to persevere when times are difficult, and to offer support to others. Many counselors believe it is necessary to the therapeutic process, including the process of living in addiction recovery. It is safe to say that anyone who wants life to change needs hope that it can happen. 

The belief that it is possible for things to get better, and that you have the ability to control your own destiny is tremendously powerful. Uncovering hope causes problems and challenges to lose some of their power over you, and this, in turn, prompts you to want to determine your own destiny. You can look at hope as a catalyst that helps you find your hidden strengths, see possibilities where none previously appeared, and begin the process of positive change. 

How Hope Differs from Positive Thinking

While hope is positive, it is not the same thing as positive thinking. Positive thinking does not necessarily have an object toward which it is directed but can be a general state of being. Hope, on the other hand, requires an acknowledgment and understanding of potential obstacles. Positive thinking does not require a specific scenario, but can be a general attitude. Hope, on the other hand, is more specific.

When you have hope, you know what has happened, you know what may happen, and you also know that you have influence over the outcome. It is like positive thinking with goals and objectives, and it has great power. 

The Four Key Components of Hope

What key attitudes go together to create hope? Psychologist Shane Lopez says there are four of them:

  • Belief that the future will be better
  • Belief in one’s power to influence the future
  • Understanding that there may be multiple paths to a goal
  • Understanding that no path to any goal will be free from obstacles
Addiction recovery

Hope is transcendent and goal-oriented.

Because hope is practical as well as belief-oriented, it requires work from both the head and the heart. It offers a functional balance between fear and euphoria, brings together passion and caution, and pairs transcendent thinking with reason. 

Putting Hope into Action

How can you put hope to work in your life in addiction recovery? It takes three steps, according to Lopez, and those steps are setting goals, developing ways to make them happen, and choosing your pathways toward your goals. The second and third steps are simple, but may not be easy, because hope does not eliminate the need for hard work. It does, however, offer reassurance that your hard work will pay off. 

Fortunately, there are plenty of small things you can do that will put your hope into action and move you toward your goals. For example, if your goal is to save enough money for a car down-payment or a rainy-day fund, you can set up your bank account to put a certain number of dollars per month into a special savings account. If you want to increase your energy level, you can set a phone alarm or use your Fitbit watch to go off at intervals to remind you to get up and walk around or stretch. You may have to get creative to incorporate action into your life, but there are countless ways to do it. 

Addiction recovery cannot move forward without hope. Hope is more realistic than pie-in-the-sky positive thinking because it recognizes that there will be obstacles. However, hope also says that you can overcome those obstacles, and that has enormous power when you are in addiction recovery. If you have questions or need to talk about addiction recovery, we invite you to contact us today.

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